Designing instruction for complex learning: 4C/ID in higher education

Jimmy Frerejean*, Jeroen J. G. van Merrienboer, Paul A. Kirschner, Ann Roex, Bert Aertgeerts, Marco Marcellis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives-based instructional design approaches break down tasks into specific learning objectives and prescribe that instructors should choose the optimal instructional method for teaching each respective objective until all objectives have been taught. This approach is appropriate for many tasks where there is little relation between the objectives, but less effective for teaching complex professional tasks that require the integration of knowledge, skills, and attitudes and the coordination of different skills. For the latter, a task-centred approach that starts designing instruction from whole, real-life tasks, is more appropriate. This article describes one task-centred instructional design model, namely the Four-Component Instructional Design (4C/ID) model and illustrates its application by reflecting on three educational programs in higher education designed with 4C/ID. The first case presents a design for a course that focuses on the development of mobile apps at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. The second case illustrates the integration of information problem-solving skills at Iselinge University of Professional Teacher Education, a teacher training institute in the Netherlands. The third case is an example from general practice education at the KU Leuven, Belgium. Future developments and issues concerning the implementation of task-centred educational programmes are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-524
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


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